We enjoyed a very informative evening with John Wood, Head Gardener at Hinton Ampner, who, having restored the rose garden at Mottisfont, arrived to do more of the same at Hinton Ampner.
We looked at glorious pictures of dew-soaked blooms in all colours with not a greenfly in sight. There were rampant ramblers, clinging climbers, old species roses that produced glorious hips and ideas of what to plant underneath roses. It is far more interesting to see lavender or dianthus rather than bare soil.
John gave us a fascinating history of rose cultivation. For instance, did you know there is fossil evidence that roses evolved over 35 to 40 million years ago? Me neither. More recently, roses were being cultivated in China in 3,000 BC. It was not until 1897 that hybrid tea roses were first introduced with the characteristic large, scrolled flower on a single stem, floribunda roses coming shortly after in Germany in 1907.
Most roses these days are grafted onto the strong root stock of Rosa Laxa, We all have experience of annoying and frustrating rose diseases. The most basic one we come across is Specific Rose Replant Disorder caused by replanting new roses in old rose ground. The flowers go brown due to the roots not flourishing. This can be prevented by applying mycorrhizal root grow which is a friendly fungus and extends the root growth to allow more absorption of water and nutrients.
We learnt where we might have been going wrong with our pruning techniques and that we should not be afraid of cutting old and damaged shoots right down to the ground provided that a few taller healthy shoots are left to give a good shape. Be bold, we were told, the harder you prune the larger the flowers. January to March is the ideal time to do this. Suckers should be shown no mercy and should be ripped out from where they grow often below soil level. When buying new roses it is better to buy bare rooted plants, heeling them in well and ensuring that the graft joint is covered by soil.
We should not despair that we cannot grow roses in our acid, sandy soil. Just keep piling on the compost and talk nicely to them. They also respond to organic pellets and a spray of liquid seaweed once a month from Spring onwards.
One last factoid for all those of a certain age, the Peace rose with its yellow flowers flushed pink and enchanting fragrance was introduced in 1945 after the 2nd World War. It was one of my Dad’s favourites.
Thursday 3rd August 2017 will be forever etched in my mind, along with my wedding day and birth of my children. This was the Day that Carol Klein and a BBC film crew came to my garden to film for Gardeners World. !!!!
It had long been a lifetimes dream of mine to have my garden on my favourite TV programme but I never in a million years thought it would ever come true!.
I had seen on Facebook a few months ago that GW were looking for real peoples gardens to film as recent audience research had shown viewers were fed up with watching Monty Don dig holes and plant plants.!! Also they only show large gardens owned by rich people!!! They were also interested in normal people who had a back story, so I wrote telling them about my ‘dodgy eyes’ and my messy border!
I had forgotten all about it and one day received an e mail from one of the producers asking if I was still interested. I wrote back saying I was and she arranged for one of her colleagues, Camilla to ring me to discuss it. Camilla duly rang and I told her all about myself and my garden. Camilla had to then report back to her bosses, more e mails followed and they requested photographs which I sent. I then had a tense few days while they decided whether to use me, they had had over 1100 applications. By then Camilla and I were communicating via text and I suddenly had a text to say, yes they would love to come and film with me, and could they come in eight days’ time! We then began the biggest clean-up of the house and garden we had ever seen. There is nothing like a BBC film crew coming to make you dust your corners! I am sure that many of my fellow gardeners, like me, tend to ignore housework in the summer months!
The crew all stayed in Old Thorns Hotel in Liphook and asked if they could come on the Wednesday night to see the garden and discuss what would happen the next day. We all sat very nervously waiting for them to arrive and finally the car pulled into the driveway. Camilla got out first and greeted me like an old friend, next was Steve the director and then Carol Klein herself was walking towards me smiling…. I manged to hold myself together and she shook my hand and said ‘just treat me as a friend visiting, I’m very informal’
This was easier said than done and it was very surreal having her sit in my sitting room, drinking tea and laughing. It was decided they would turn up the next morning at 8.30 and we discussed the format the day would take. I had previously offered to make them lunch which they were very pleased about as they normally get a sandwich from a local garage or supermarket. As it was the BBC and paid for by the licence fee they could not be seen to get anything for free so had to pay me £20, I tried to say no but they insisted and had to give me a receipt, I gave the money to the children!!! I had made a monster Victoria Sandwich which I am sure would have won first prize in one of our shows! Something made me think, is Carol Klein vegetarian? So I googled it and she was, so I did rolls, ham, salad and quiche with vegetarian couscous etc.
Carol wanted a quick look round the garden as it was getting dark, unfortunately it was raining so we got her an umbrella, in the garden she linked arms with me and I gave her a guided tour. She was very direct and kept telling me off for agreeing with her, ‘argue with me’ she kept saying, once I got used to doing this we had some really good ‘discussions’ about plants she liked and I didn’t and vice versa. We went into the greenhouse and Camilla came too, she is a horticulturalist as well as a producer. I don’t like Begonias and had one shoved in a corner, Carol asked me ‘why is that begonia in the naughty corner’!! I had got it free with a plant order and didn’t have the heart to throw it away. I showed them some succulents I had bought from Tom Hart Dyke when he came to give a talk to the club and Camilla said, ‘he’s my boyfriend!!!’ I can remember when Tom had finished his talk and answered questions that one of our members asked if he had a girlfriend!! What a small world!
All too soon we were waving them off and wondering what had just happened was a dream!!
The next morning we were up early, my husband was not too keen on being filmed and disappeared to work early. The children, who many of you have met, loved the day, and were fascinated about how a TV programme is filmed.
Joining us on the Thursday were Gary the cameraman and Sam the sound man. The microphone goes down inside your clothes and connects on the back of your trousers, just like you see on TV. Sam told me to tell him if I needed the toilet as if you pull your trousers down with the pack attached it can fall down the toilet and it was very expensive, it took some getting used to, to tell a male stranger every time I needed to powder my nose I can tell you!
The director was very good and told me to just ignore the camera and look at Carol, they would get the angles right, every conversation had to be repeated three or four times with different camera angles each time. I found that I say ‘Yes’ a lot and found it difficult to wait for Carol to stop talking before I started, but got the hang of it. They all worked very hard and we filmed for 11 hours with just stops for eating and drinking.
Carol really mucked in – above a photo of her washing up in the kitchen. She also made a fuss of the children, playing football and planting seeds with them. The film crew were very friendly and had a good sense of humour and at the end of the day I felt sad I would probably never see them again.
We filmed many more scenes than were shown on GW, enough to make a whole programme, but they must have ended up on the cutting room floor!
During the day Camilla kept her handbag clutched to her and a couple of times I had asked if she wanted to put it in the house but she had said no, I had thought it a bit strange until I noticed that every so often Gary the cameraman would take a full ‘chip’ from the camera and she would put it into a special wallet then put it in her bag. I think she did not want the bag to go out of her sight or all our work might have been lost!
All too soon all the filming they needed had been done and they were keen to get on the road for a 2 hour drive to their next hotel for their next job. They had chosen myself and one other person out of the 1100 who had applied and it was the next persons turn the following day. After that the camera and sound men were off to film Antiques Roadshow. They are all self-employed and seemed to work seven days a week.
It was a very special day, one I will never forget and a dream come true, only thing is I don’t know what to have for my lifetimes dream now, I’m not really an Everest climbing type of person!
I hope those of you who watched it enjoyed it and anyone who wants to come and see the border and the garden, you are more than welcome!
(Available for viewing on the BBC’s iPlayer until mid-September; Carol Klein features about 45 minutes into the programme )
Twelve brave souls turned up for our visit to Greyfriars Vineyard in pouring rain and a freezing cold wind. But what a successful day. We were greeted by the owner Mike Wagstaff in his shirt sleeves while we were all dressed for winter conditions. He presented us with a glass of his prize winning sparkling wine. It had recently won a blind tasting event against Champagne. That nearly made up for the weather.
Mike gave us a very interesting talk about the history of wine production in the UK and told us all about Greyfriars wines. We were given details of how the sparkling wine was produced and were shown the enormous vats where the wine was made.
We declined a visit around the vineyard to see the grapes but instead saw the storage area that was in a cave that had been cut into the Hoggs Back.
Surrounded by bottles of wine Mike gave us a chance to taste the various sparkling wines that they produce both white and rose. It was interesting to note that the group all had different views about what they liked best.
If you are looking for something sparkling and special for Christmas why not give them a call as I’m sure you will not be disappointed with the quality of their wine, and it is much cheaper than the French equivalent. Details at www.greyfriarsvineyard.co.uk